#Lockdown Entertainment – TV shows you need to watch Part 2

Posted: June 7, 2020 in Popular Culture et al
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Well, the world continues to burn down around our ears, and coronavirus continues unabated (regardless of what the Dear Leader tweets) so here’s our list of must watch iso-drama. Obviously this could be a VERY long list as there’s so much good TV around, so these are the absolutely gems. In our humble opinion.

Blacklist

Spade and Boone light up the screen whenever they’re on together.

Now into it’s seventh season, Blacklist is an American crime thriller television series that premiered on NBC on September 23, 2013.

The show follows Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), a former U.S. Navy officer turned high-profile criminal, who voluntarily surrenders to the FBI after eluding capture for decades. He tells the FBI that he has a list of the most dangerous criminals in the world that he has compiled over the years and is willing to inform on their operations in exchange for immunity from prosecution. However, he insists on working exclusively with a rookie FBI profiler by the name of Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). The rest of the show, whilst watching the cast enthusiastically chase baddies, is basically untangling the mystery of why Reddington is obsessed with Keen. The fast-paced, great-looking series also stars Diego Klattenhoff, Ryan Eggold and Harry Lennix.

Each season has received positive reviews, with many critics praising Spader’s performance in particular. He is seen in this original and cleverly plotted series as an hilariously witty, unfathomable and frequently frighteningly intense character, quite unlike any other on TV. Indeed, the series is worth watching for Spader’s quirky, eccentric and original performance alone. Spader has specialised in odd roles in his career, and none more compelling than Reddington. You will find yourself hooked very quickly. On February 20, 2020, NBC renewed the series for an eighth season.

Killing Eve

Anyone who watched the ineffable, funny and tragic comedy Fleabag knows that its protagonist, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a true artistic genius. Proving that lightning can strike twice, (and with the new series Run, perhaps three times), she was also the head writer and executive producer for the first series of the BBC America thriller series Killing Eve (2018–present), which she adapted for television. Both shows have been highly acclaimed and named among the 100 greatest television series of the 21st century by The Guardian, with the former ranked at No. 8 and the latter at No. 30.

Compelling characters drive great TV. Oh and Comer provide material in spades.

A stylish and wincingly funny black comedy-drama spy thriller, (the collection of genres is warranted) it follows Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), a British intelligence investigator tasked with capturing psychopathic assassin Villanelle ( played brilliantly by Jodie Comer). As the chase progresses, the two develop a mutual obsession. Based on the Villanelle novel series by Luke Jennings, each of the show’s series is led by a different female head writer. The first series had Waller-Bridge as the head writer, while Emerald Fennell took over for the second series. Subsequently, Suzanne Heathcote was the head writer for series three and Laura Neal will follow through as series four’s head writer.

This show has it all. Frequently laugh out loud funny it is also egregiously violent and disturbing, constantly involving and evolving with numerous sub-plots and side-stories, and has healthy doses of sexual allure delivered by the two central characters, and especially Comer, who reveals an amazing capacity to deliver different speaking accents and walk on and off screen in some of the most stylish clothing ensembles seen on TV, whilst never once looking odd.

Lust, violence, humour, beauty. What’s not to like?

A pink tulle dress worn in the first season episode “I’ll Deal with Him Later“, designed by Molly Goddard, was heralded as a “fashion moment” that inspired the dresses worn on red carpets in the subsequent awards season, including an overwhelming showing of pink at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony in 2019. The show has had three costume designers: Phoebe de Gaye for the first season, Charlotte Mitchell for the second, and Sam Perry for the third. Villanelle’s relationship to fashion has been described by many people: Gilly Ferguson of Grazia says that she has become a “style icon”.  Jennings himself says that “Clothes reflect her status and independence. She doesn’t have to conform or please anyone’s gaze”, while Sonia Saraiya of Vanity Fair considers Villanelle’s outfits “their own subplot”; she notes that the character choosing to live in Paris is also a nod to the emphasis on fashion in the show. Mitchell also said of Villanelle that she “uses color to provoke reactions”.

So much to enjoy. And Comer’s range of facial expressions alone is constantly absorbing. Indeed, she would be every heterosexual male’s “girl next door” fantasy woman were it not for the nagging fear that she would shove a knitting needle through your eye and into your brain without warning for some perceived slight.

Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens, head of the Russia Section at MI6, is also uniformly excellent.

The Leftovers

Confirming our love of genre-busting ideas-driven TV, The Leftovers was an American supernatural mystery drama created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, that aired on

Some of the weirdest – and best – TV you will ever watch.

HBO from June 29, 2014, to June 4, 2017. Based on Perrotta’s novel of the same name, the series begins three years after the “Sudden Departure”, a global event that resulted in 2% of the world’s population inexplicably disappearing. The lives of police chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux, in a career defining role), his family, along with grieving widow Nora Durst (Carrie Coon, ditto) and her brother, reverend Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston), are the focal points of the series, as they struggle to adjust to life after the Departure.

The pilot was written by Lindelof and Perrotta, and directed by Peter Berg. The series stars an ensemble cast featuring Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Chris Zylka, Margaret Qualley, Coon, Ann Dowd, Regina King, Jovan Adepo, Kevin Carroll, Janel Moloney, and Scott Glenn. The series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on October 4, 2015, and concluded December 6, 2015. On December 10, 2015, at Lindelof’s request to be able to conclude the series, HBO renewed it for a third and final season, which premiered on April 16, 2017, and concluded on June 4, 2017. Over the course of the series, 28 episodes aired over three seasons. The last ever episode satisfyingly explains much of what has gone before, and is genuinely moving.

Depth of casting is one of the series great strengths.

The first season received mostly positive reviews, though some criticized the series for its grim tone. The series underwent a critical reevaluation during its acclaimed second and third seasons, with many critics referring to The Leftovers as one of the greatest television series of all time, with particular praise for its writing, directing, acting and thematic depth.

The musical score composed by Max Richter also attracted critical praise, and in our opinion its contibution to the success of the series cannot be over-estimated – it literally sets the heartbreaking mood for all the show contains and is some of the most remarkable contemplative scene-setting imaginable.  Have a listen.

Despite receiving only average Nielsen ratings throughout its run, the series rapidly developed a cult following and was compared favorably to Lost, a previous series co-created by Lindelof. The climactic third season received unanimous acclaim from critics. On Metacritic, it has a score of 98 out of 100 based on 17 reviews, indicating “universal acclaim”.

Full of thematic curiosities, painful challenges to re-consider the nature of life, love and loss, it is mainly memorable for its mesmerising central performances, and labyrinthine plot. Well worth the effort.

Les Revenants

Before we leave “what on earth is going on here?” TV, you owe yourself some time watching the French TV series Les Revenants, or The Returned. Don’t bother with cheap imitations of the core idea, this was the original and best. This is a haunting French supernatural drama television series created by Fabrice Gobert, based on the 2004 French film They Came Back (Les Revenants), directed by Robin Campillo. The series debuted on 26 November 2012 on Canal+ and completed its first season, consisting of eight episodes, on 17 December.

In 2013, the first season won an International Emmy for Best Drama Series. The second season, also comprising eight episodes, premiered on 28 September 2015 on Canal+, premiered in the UK on 16 October 2015 on More4, and in the US on 31 October 2015 on SundanceTV.

Separated at death. Or were they? Lena (Jenna Thiam) and Camille (Yara Pilartz) are reunited twins in The Returned.

In a small French mountain town many dead people reappear, apparently alive and normal, including teenage schoolbus crash victim Camille, suicidal bridegroom Simon, a small boy called “Victor” who was murdered by burglars, and serial killer Serge. While they try to resume their lives strange phenomena occur: recurring power outages; a mysterious lowering of the local reservoir’s water level, revealing the presence of many dead animals and a church steeple; and the appearance of strange marks on the bodies of the living and the dead.

In a central role, French-Lebanese actress Yara Pilartz, in particular, knows when to hold back, adding to her character Camille’s enigma. Across the series, the performances and the themes – family, community, identity, existence – plumb real emotional depths, exacerbated by the fact that for most of the show – some would argue all of it – we really have not got the faintest idea what is going on. Such pure story-telling is refreshingly unusual and the quality of production supports it, including magnificent photography of the Haut-Savoire. The series was shot mainly in the city of Annecy, and in Seynod, Menthon-Saint-Bernard, Poisy, Cran-Gevrier, Sévrier, Annecy-le-Vieux, Veyrier-du-Lac, and Semnoz. The dam, which plays an important role, is the Barrage de Tignes.

Bosch

Nothing rounds out a season of home confinement like a gritty, realistic American cop drama, packed with pitch-perfect performances and great plotlines. Bosch delivers on every level, starring Titus Welliver as Los Angeles Police detective Harry Bosch in the role of his career, showing real depth and subtlety in what could have been a weak cliche riddled genre performance but which is actually nuanced and fascinating.

The show was developed for Amazon taking its inspiration from the Michael Connelly novels City of Bones, Echo Park, and The Concrete Blonde. The series was renewed for a seventh and final season on February 13, 2020.

Whilst every series is internally complete, it has running themes that link everything together, of which the most interesting is the relationship of Bosch with his daughter Maddie, played with real charm and credibility by Madison Lintz, and the on-going investigation into the cold-case murder of Bosch’s prostitute mother.

An interesting curiosity was the casting of Star Trek’s “7 of 9” Jeri Ryan in Season 2 as Veronica Allen, a manipulative former porn star married to an Armenian porn producer, who is murdered. Indeed, all the show’s supporting cast is wonderful, too.

On critical comment worth noting was “Boschs third season maintains the series’ mastery over mystery, deftly interweaving story strands as sprawling as a Los Angeles intersection.”

We can’t do better than that.

And if you never visited or lived in Los Angeles, the show showcases that curious curate’s egg of a city perfectly.

Stay safe out there, people.

 

See also: https://wellthisiswhatithink.com/2020/06/04/lockdown-entertainment-tv-shows-you-need-to-watch-part-1/

 

 

 

 

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